How to Put Up Filler Strips for Kitchen Cabinets

Written by mark morris | 13/05/2017

Details matter when installing kitchen cabinets and filling voids between cabinets, or between cabinets and the wall. Using cabinet filler strips, or scribes built from the same material as cabinet faces, is the best way to accomplish this. But how do you measure, cut and install cabinet scribes? Consider a few pointers that anyone with a few power tools and some building know how can use to achieve results.

Measure for scribes by measuring the face of the cabinet from top to bottom. This will be the length of your scribe.

Gaps are frequently not truly rectangular and be more narrow on top or bottom. Since the gap is typically between two flat surfaces (e.g. two cabinets or a cabinet and a wall), measure the gap at the top and bottom ends.

Mark these measurements on your material; use ¾-inch plywood or hardwood finished similar to the cabinet. Use one straight edge to reduce cuts. Cut your board to length with a circular or handsaw. If the scribe is an equal rectangle and a tablesaw is handy, simply rip to width.

Cut tapered scribes carefully with a bandsaw, jigsaw or coping saw. Clamp the piece down using a C clamp and a square of cardboard to protect the finish, and cut as close to a straight line as possible between the two points.

For any inconsistencies in wall surfaces, such as curves, bulges or bumps, tap the scribe into place without glue, and mark it by running a pencil flat against the wall and transferring the profile of the wall to the scribe. Remove the scribe, cut away the excess and proceed with installation.

Apply a small amount of wood glue on the edge of the scribe that will rest against the cabinet. Fit the scribe into place, tapping gently with a rubber mallet if needed.

Attach to the cabinet with nails or screws from the inside of the cabinet. Pre-drill for screws to avoid splitting. Screws work best for tight seams.

Repeat for the other side if working between cabinets. Make sure to glue both edges, and be careful not to allow screws to pull cabinets out of alignment with other units, including the countertop. If this happens, remove screws, reset the cabinet and recut the scribe for a better fit.

Use painter's caulk at the wall to fill seams for a nice, clean finish. Use wood caulk for open seams between cabinets. Make sure to keep a damp rag handy to remove excess caulk before it dries.

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Wood scribes to match cabinets
  • Circular or handsaw
  • Table saw (optional)
  • Bandsaw, jigsaw or coping saw
  • C clamp
  • Rubber mallet
  • Drill and screws or hammer and nails
  • Caulking

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